The forty and one

20
Apr
2008

Since we are discussing interesting euphemisms, let’s talk about another I came across today.

I am still deep into the Labyrinth of Solitude by Octavio Paz. The book is truly amazing, especially Paz’s deconstruction of Mexican machismo (which is arguably and happily on the decline). In and among these descriptions and my subsequent internet research on the subject, I came across a fascinating (and now mostly out of use) euphemism for male homosexuality in Mexico. The number “41” has been equated with homosexuality in Mexico since a raid that took place in 1901 on a party (with 41 participants). Half of the guests were dressed in women’s dresses and were dancing with the other half. Although not so much in use anymore, for many years the number 41 was a highly negative euphemism for homosexuality in Mexico. The taint of the use of the number was so great apparently, that it would be avoided at all costs in the numbering of all manner of things, including hospital rooms, birthdays (men would skip from 40 to 42), public documents, etc.

Comments

  1. Mom says:

    Fear and social norms make people do really odd things……